CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Man accused of killing Santaquin officer gets new representation

Jul 3, 2024, 9:30 PM

Michael Aaron Jayne, the Indiana man accused of intentionally running down and killing a Santaquin ...

Michael Aaron Jayne, the Indiana man accused of intentionally running down and killing a Santaquin police officer, was holding a woman against her will when officers pulled him over, according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office. (Utah Department of Public Safety)

(Utah Department of Public Safety)

SALT LAKE CITY — Michael Jayne, the man accused of killing Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser will be represented in court by private attorneys. However, they will not come from the Utah County Public Defender’s office, which said they have too many murder cases to handle right now.

Instead, Rudy Bautista and Jonathan Nish are taking over Jayne’s case.

Jayne is charged with 9 felonies including aggravated murder for the death of Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser on May 5, 2024. Jayne is accused of intentionally steering a semi-truck toward Hooser, then striking and killing him.

The aggravated murder charge carries the possibility of the death penalty.

Utah County will continue paying for Jayne’s representation even though the public defender’s office is no longer involved, Bautista said.

Not an unusual situation

KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas said this situation is not unusual.

“There is a group of attorneys who are what we call ‘death qualified’ in Utah. We are attorneys that have tried a certain number of homicide cases, have training in death penalty cases and can be court-appointed on capital offenses,” Skordas said. 

Bautista has taken on capital murder trials in the past. During these trials, lawyers generally try to get the death penalty off the table, Bautista said..

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Man accused of killing Santaquin officer gets new representation